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Safety and security

Find information about submitting your research for safety review at VA Pittsburgh. We have special guidelines for research involving animals subjects, human subjects, and radiation.

Safety and security

VA Pittsburgh is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for research subjects (human and animal) and all research personnel.

To ensure a safe environment, all research involving biological, chemical, physical and/or radiation hazards must be reviewed by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). In addition, research involving humans must be reviewed by the IRB, animal research must be reviewed by the IACUC, and research not involving humans or animals must be reviewed by RESC.

Submitting your research for review

New research submissions

To initiate your submission to the research office, please complete and submit Part I: Request to Conduct Research; if you're planning to work with human subjects, you'll need to complete the ProSPECT study application. The answers you provide on these forms will determine whether you need to submit materials to the IBC. 

If you need to submit materials to the IBC, you must complete and submit the following documents, as applicable:

Part I - Request to conduct research

This document initiates a submission within the research office. Please complete all applicable parts. The way you fill out the form will help determine which other parts (II-V) you will need.

Research with special safety considerations

Research involving animal subjects, human subjects, or radiation of any kind has special safety considerations. If your research requires special considerations, please visit the appropriate page(s). 

Animal research

For information on safety protocol and review process for animal research.

Human research

For information on safety protocol and review process for human research.

Radiation safety

For information on safety protocol and review process for human research.

Part II - Research protocol

Research Protocol Safety Survey

Chemical matrix

Complete this form to document all chemicals that will be used as part of your project.

Part V - Application to use radioactive materials

See Radiation safety for more information.

Modifying your project

Any modifications or amendments to your project, including changes in staff, must be reviewed and approved by the VAPHS IBC before you can begin work. To request an amendment, please submit the IBC Amendment Request Form.

Documenting lab protocols

Depending on the nature of your protocol, the agents you plan to use, and the procedures you conduct in your lab, you may need to submit additional documentation. This section provides instructions for submitting these documents.

Application to Access Research Secured Area
Each person requesting access to a secured research area must complete this form and have it signed by the Principal Investigator of the laboratory. Submit completed forms directly to the Administrative Officer for Research and Development.

Request for Staff Access to Research Secured Area
The Investigator must complete this form to enable their employees and staff to access secured research areas. Submit completed forms directly to the Administrative Officer for Research and Development.

Research Laboratory Hazardous/Select Agent Certification Form
Complete this form to verify the presence (or absence) of hazardous and/or select agents in use laboratory space. The form is required annually.

Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) Safety Manual
Use this document as a template to develop specific operating procedures for a BSL-2 laboratory. Any specific operating procedures will be reviewed annually by the VAPHS Biosafety & Chemical Hygiene Officer during laboratory inspections.

Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool
Use this form to record the hazards associated with work conducted in your laboratory and to assess the type of PPE needed to protect staff from these hazards. You must update these forms annually — they'll be reviewed by the VAPHS Biosafety & Chemical Hygiene Officer during laboratory inspections.

Continuing review

The Principal Investigator must submit a continuing review to the IBC annually. A continuing review submission form will be sent to the Principal Investigator approximately 90, 60, and 30 days prior to the project's expiration.

Submitting your research for review

Please send lab research submissions to the VAPHS Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Coordinator:

Beth Toth
Research Office Building
Mail Code 151
Office #1A-114
University Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 1524

Training requirements

Everyone who works in a research laboratory and is funded by the VA must complete specific required training. Please review the VAPHS Research Staff Training Document for more details about research safety training requirements. 

Research safety guidelines

All research personnel who work with recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules must review the Overview of the NIH Guidelines and the brochure of Investigator's responsibilities under the NIH Guidelines, and depending on your role you may need to review the additional documents included below: 

Policies and standard operating procedures

The following documents detail VA's policies and standard operating procedures. Please review all documents that apply to your research.